As the Year of the Rabbit gets underway, it’s wonderful to witness what no soothsayer, astrologer or ‘intelligence’ expert apparently predicted: the spreading revolt by Arabs against governments that have been treating them for decades like nothing but dumb, helpless bunnies.
It’s like reading a rewrite of Animal Farm, seeing the formerly timid, compliant and defenceless multitude turn on the corrupt and greedy pigs and self-appointed top dogs that have so long made their lives a misery.
And even more satisfying is that this series of grass-roots revolutions has caught the whole world on the hop, and once again exposed the hypocrisy of the American eagle in its hypocritical foreign policy of trying to run with the hare and simultaneously hunt with the hounds.
“He may be a son of a bitch, but at least he’s our son of a bitch” has long been the cynical US defence of its moral and financial support for criminal despots in contravention of its high-flown rhetoric in favour of fundamental freedoms and universal human rights.
This policy of appeasement or support of any regime that can be paid or pressured to fall in line with its perceived economic, ideological and military interests has cost the US enormous quantities of popular credibility and clout, not to mention squillions of dollars and the lives of countless military and civilian casualties.
Their support for banana republics and fascist military dictatorships in South America and the Caribbean has enabled if not caused untold human misery for more than a century.
The Vietnam war, in which several successive US administrations backed a corrupt and brutal Saigon-based regime in a conflict that caused massive destruction, claimed millions of lives and triggered the rise of the murderous Khmer Rouge in Cambodia, was an unmitigated, self-inflicted disaster.
But apparently by no means a learning experience, as then came US support for first the obscene regime of the Shah during the Iranian people’s revolution, then for both sides in the bloody Iran-Iraq war, resulting in the deadly enmity of today’s Iran and a campaign that’s still being fought to rid Iraq of the legacy of former US son of a bitch Saddam Hussein.
Admittedly the US occasionally appears to back its democratic and humanitarian words with less self-serving deeds, as when it was dragged, albeait kicking and screaming, into leading NATO in ridding the Balkans of Milosovic.
But more often, when its geopolitical or economic concerns aren’t directly at stake, it abandons helpless people to their fates, as perhaps most notoriously in the Rwandan genocide.
But it can’t resist meddling in the muddle of the Middle East, as oil, the Suez Canal and its client-state Israel are all at stake. Thus it’s in the ridiculous position of further bankrupting itself in the fight to bring freedom and democracy to Iraq and Afghanistan, while supporting autocracies and dictatorships in Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia, and tolerating other equally undesirable regimes in Algeria, Libya Syria and elsewhere.
The kind of creature the US promotes, permits and protects despite its avowed support for the rights and freedoms of the common people in the region is dramatically illustrated by the opposition voiced by Saudi’s King Abdullah to the popular uprising in Egypt.
“No Arab or Muslim can tolerate any meddling in the security and stability of Arab and Muslim Egypt by those who infiltrated the people in the name of freedom of expression, exploiting it to inject their destructive hatred,” he ranted.
In other words, as far as his majesty and his henchmen are concerned it’s a case of security, stability and business as usual, and to hell with the people and their freedoms.
US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton and other Western government spokespersons admittedly haven’t been quite so people-unfriendly. But like the US president, who seemingly hasn’t yet decided whether to play the situation as Barack or Mubarak Obama, most seemed to come down not on the side not of the people, but of the status quo, or “stability”.
Happily for those of us who truly believe in government of the people, for the people and by the people, however, the rabbits in Tunisia and Egypt have pushed open the stable door, and the proverbial horse has bolted. And the rabbits are showing similar signs of restlessness in countries including Algeria, Jordan and Yemen.
With most of the world’s governments and media rabbiting on about these momentous events, it’s interesting to observe that they’ve received little if any official mention in Malaysia.
In fact, as eager as it customarily is to ape pretty well anything Arabic, and to venture an opinion on any issue relating to Islam, Malaysia’s Barisan Nasional regime has been as quiet as a mouse.
Some might put the BN government’s suspicious silence down to domestic preoccupations like buying the recent by-election in Tenang and trying to deal with its latest crop of financial and homicidal scandals.
But of course the true reason for its ignoring the achievements of people power in the Arab world or anywhere else is that it’s mortally terrified of a similar outbreak of anti-regime rage at home.
As I and many others have mentioned before, the Tunisian people’s hatred of Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali, his wife and cronies is eerily similar to the loathing of many Malaysians for Najib Razak and his consort, colleagues and cronies.
So, far from commenting on the Arab cause on one side or the other, Najib has taken himself and his entourage off to Dubai, ostensibly in quest of investment capital.
Leaving his deputy, Muhyuddin Yassin, in charge of election investment, and his Home Minister Hishammuddin Hussein to keep up the pressure on opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim by accusing him of being funded by terrorist-linked Saudi Arabians.
All of which suggests to me that, as far as Malaysia’s BN regime is concerned, this is not such much the Year of the Rabbit as, according to its custom, just another year of the robbit. Or, in recognition of its practice of bribing elected opposition members to hop frog-fashion into the BN ranks, yet another year of the ribbit.
But hey, here’s wishing you a happy and healthy one anyway.